By Patrick James on 2016-05-01 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Infiniti Q30 1.6t
IF there's one car that looks likely to put Infiniti on the motoring map, it is surely the new Q30 executive challenger, designed to take on the likes of Audi A3, A-Class Mercedes and BMW 1 series.
The Q30 is in fact based on the A-Class as part of a collaboration between Nissan, Renault and the German firm.
It looks good and has a plush interior with bags of standard equipment, even on the lower spec models.
This is a departure from its bigger siblings where virtually every extra was thrown in at a more substantial price.
This is to keep it in line with main rivals price wise while still exuding that executive feel.
The Nissan-owned firm's sales are rising so now is the time to take on the big boys in the more compact part of the market.
Infinti has only a handful of dealers countrywide but the public is beginning to catch on, also helped by last year's high-profile advertising with the Red Bull Formula 1 racing team.
That scarcity is mitigated by the ‘Infiniti experience' which includes one-to-one service at any of the 10 Infiniti centres in the UK as well as 24/7 assistance whatever the circumstances.
And the Q30 is British-built and made at the Nissan plant in Sunderland.
It looks the part, with its sculpted curves and power bulges, while sitting high of the ground on attractive alloy wheels. It has attractive light clusters to front and rear. It is a handsome car, but the swooping roofline means it can be a bit of squeeze entering or exiting, particularly in the rear.
Once inside, the interior is luxurious and well laid out. The lower-spec models like the petrol version driven here are also competitive with a starting price of just over £20,000, a price you can pay for rival Fords, Peugeots and Vauxhalls, let alone premium challengers.
The range-topper is still not hugely expensive at a shade under £32,000. Despite this, even the entry level is packed with goodies and gadgets as well as a comprehensive list of safety kit which includes blind spot and forward collision warning with emergency braking.
There are four engines, the 1.6 petrol turbo in this car, a two-litre petrol plus 1.5 and 2.2-litre diesels.
I struggled with the 1.6 to start with. It has to be worked and when it does, it is a satisfying and refined motor.
It is quiet at low revs but still sounds good under heavy acceleration and keep the revs up the performance comes.
The cabin is well appointed and comfortable, with supportive high quality seats and a premium feel to the rest of the interior although head and legroom are just about adequate.
Soft-touch finish abounds and the controls and central touchscreen infotainment system are well laid out and logically placed, although the sat nav will cost you an extra £1,400.
On the road, the ride is composed and comfortable and the car handles well enough. Testing, twisty country lanes are not problem with the car feeling nimble and composed.
It is even better on the motorway where the interior comfort and soundproofing keep noise to a minimum. Engine noise is minimal while wind and road noise barely intrudes.
Economy-wise it does not fare so well against some of its rivals, with the claimed 47.1mpg realistically being somewhere nearer the lower 40s mpg mark. Emissions of 138g/km also put it in a higher tax bracket than some of its rivals.
Infiniti Q30 1.6t Premium
Mechanical: 122ps, 1,595cc 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels vial 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 124mph
0-62mph: 9.4 seconds
Combined MPG: 47.1
Insurance Group: 16
C02 emissions: 138g/km
Bik rating: 24%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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